Rangers dropped 2 points in a 2-2 draw with Partick Thistle at Firhill. The game had plenty to discuss, and some good football from both teams, but Rangers will consider it a poor result as a poor 15 minutes after halftime cost them the win.
The Rangers team which started was the one predicted by most, with Windass replacing Kranjcar in the only change. In our match preview, I noted that it would be difficult to predict the Thistle starting team. As such, two of the players I suggested would be part of the key battles were on the bench. Blair Spittal also started on the opposite side from where I felt he would play. Basically, I got it very, very wrong!
The game started rather slowly, with both sides trying to press each other high up the pitch. Thistle left players marking the centre-halves and deep-lying midfielder whenever Foderingham had to kick the ball out. That meant he had to play a little longer out wide to Tavernier, which is riskier.
A longer ball from Alves on the 9th minute led to Candeias getting in behind, but he couldn’t get a clear shot and gave the ball away with a backheel. The early parts of the game saw a few Rangers chances break down due to loose passes.
Early in the game, Lee Wallace had a shot at goal which caused him to go down injured. That injury got worse in a challenge on the 11th minute, and he was substituted to give Declan John his debut. The Wallace injury looks like a groin strain, which would make him a major doubt for next weekend.
The first real chance of the game led to the opening goal on 18 minutes. Good link-up between Windass and John led to a blocked shot. From the rebound, Ryan Jack won the ball back, drove forward and passed it to Morelos. From an angle around 14 yards out, and with the ball not entirely out of his feet, Morelos lashed home a right-footed drive into the far post. It was a cracking finish from a striker in good form. At that point, neither side had really dominated the game.
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Rangers slack attacking play was summed up on 23 minutes when Windass drove forward from the halfway line. He had a few options, including driving on himself, but played a really poor pass and it all broke down. There were too many of those examples from various players in the first half hour.
In the 31st minute, Morelos won the ball in an advanced area and Windass was able to drive forward. A pass to Morelos, cross to MIller and knock down for Windass led to a shot on goal which was blocked. The ball hit the hand of the Thistle defender, but it certainly wasn’t deliberate, and the shot looked to be going over the bar anyway.
A couple of minutes later, there was a real flashpoint. Ryan Jack went into a challenge with Ryan Edwards. Jack won the ball sliding in, and Edwards went over the ball somewhat and put his studs into Jack’s ankle in a stamping motion. Whilst I don’t think there was a real intent, the challenge was dangerous and could have led to a red card. Collum had played the game on, not seeing the incident fully. It took a couple of replays for the commentary team on Rangers TV to see how reckless the challenge was. Fortunately, Jack was able to continue.
Had Ryan Jack not been spoken to for a couple of challenges earlier in the game, I think the referee would have had a closer look at it. He was already in the mindset that Jack was going in a little heavily to tackles, so would have blamed him as such. Human nature makes it impossible for referees not to be influenced by such things during a game. Whilst the red card could have been brandished, I can see why it wasn’t in that case. It was one of those instances where referees need help from elsewhere to see everything fully and fairly.
A good move on the right 41 minutes in led to a cross from Tavernier which Windass met at the back post. He was on the stretch, and unable to control the ball as he prodded it wide. On reflection, it was a great chance which there hadn’t been outside of the goal for either side in the first half.
Caixinha’s frustration at the first half was evident. He was animated on the sideline, asking for quicker play when we won the ball. He got that on 44 minutes, when a Thistle attack broke down and Windass drove at the defence, winning a free kick around 20 yards from goal. The resulting free-kick was poorly hit by Candeias. Rangers attempted to create a chance from the rebound but were unable to do so.
Within seconds of the restart, Thistle had shown their intent. A strong tackle on Miller led to a booking for Keown, but it was clear Thistle felt they had been too passive in the first half. A great pass from Windass fed Tavernier a minute later on the charge. With plenty of space, he cut it back to Candeias, but his effort was very poor, as he didn’t realise how much time he had.
On 48 minutes, Alves let the ball bounce and Cardoso was caught under it. He tried to climb over Storey, and gave away the free kick on the edge of the box. Blair Spittal stepped up, and through a deflection off of Alves in the wall, equalised for Thistle. The wall broke far too easily, and it was a poor goal to concede.
54 minutes had passed before another incident. Turnbull was all over Morelos, and both players had a go at each other. There was a suggestion that Morelos kicked out at the Thistle player, but it wasn’t much of anything from either. If he is in any way cited by our esteemed Compliance Officer, it would be utterly ludicrous given what he’s let go so far this season.
Kenny Miller had not really affected the game in any way, and was replaced on 55 minutes by Eduardo Herrera. However, Rangers fell behind on 59 minutes. Blair Spittal was sent clear on the right, with Tavernier playing everyone onside, and a good cross was finished easily by Chris Erskine. The decision to try and play an offside trap was a questionable one. When a player has time and space to make a pass, it’s always risky to be stepping out. Tavernier will be blamed for that goal, but the rest of the defence didn’t do that well either.
On the 62nd minute, Pena replaced Jack in an attempt to chase the game. The Thistle spell which got them in front had ended, but play was being broken up by various fouls from both sides.
On 66 minutes, Chris Erskine was red-carded for a late challenge on Morelos. Pena and Herrera had forced him to take a heavy touch with some pressing, and he went in with a high boot on Morelos and was rightly sent off. The player himself knew that even though he didn’t make full contact with the Rangers striker, it was the correct decision.
Rangers started to apply some pressure but struggled to get shots on target. Herrera and Pena were working hard, but nothing would fall for them. Candeias, who had a poor night by his standards, kept the energy and tempo high. Crosses were just too long or not finding Rangers players, and the fans were getting frustrated.
Thistle made it difficult after going down to 10 men, but still tried to fashion a chance. On 75 minutes, a strong run by Storey gave him a chance to shoot, but he hit it high and wide. It was a moment he’ll regret, as the Rangers equaliser came a minute later.
Some link up on the left led to Windass finding Dorrans in space on the angle of the box. He took a couple of touches, cut inside and curled a great shot into the far post. The keeper got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out.
A minute later, Pena met a cross from deep which he was unable to steer past the keeper. Thistle were under pressure, but a few fouls and a substitution broke up the flow of the play. 84 minutes into the game, Tavernier and Candeias were able to put in some good crosses, but they weren’t capitalised on. There were a number of crosses and long balls into the box, but they were dealt with by a stubborn Thistle defence. The last real chance fell to Morelos in injury time, and his blocked shot led to a strange decision by the referee. The Thistle players were essentially lying on the ball as he tried to win it back, but a free kick was given against the Rangers player.
Overall, the game was frustrating. Thistle didn’t create a single chance of note outside of their goals, one of which was scored by a big deflection. However, despite a number of shots on goal, the Thistle keeper wasn’t forced to make a number of saves. It was a game we should have won, but more is required both in attack and defence.
PARTICK THISTLE: Scully, McGinn, Keown, Devine, Elliot, Barton, Turnbull, Spittal (Bannigan, 82) Edwards, Erskine, Storey (Sammon, 80).
SUBS NOT USED: Nitriansky, Sneddon, Doolan, Lawless, McCarthy.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Cardoso, Alves, Wallace (John, 13); Candeias, Jack (Pena, 63), Dorrans, Windass; Miller (Herrera, 56), Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Dalcio, Holt, Wilson.